Have no fear, dear Apple customer and defender of all that is righteous and true and well integrated. Apple’s own Siri may be the dumbest of the so-called intelligent personal assistants, but they’re all as dumb as a digital fence post.
So far, there are four major assistants for our devices. Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac are the only devices which run them all. Good for Apple. Between Google Home (or, Assistant; I can’t keep them straight and both names are stupid), Microsoft Cortana, Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, and Apple’s Siri, it’s Siri that comes up short. For now.
Leap Frog, Anyone?
Being the dumbest in a group of dumb digital assistants may sound bad, but technology is a game of leap frog and it’s been going on for years. Siri came on strong, the Google, then Cortana, then Alexa, and now it’s Siri’s turn to jump forward.
It won’t matter how far or how long Siri jumps. A competitor will be right behind. Likewise, Google Assistant and Alexa might battle it out, but Apple is known to coast along for awhile and then make some major leaps forward to quell the critics.
Think iMac Pro.
After reading all the reviews and rummaging through the research, and after a few hours of using each device on my own, my conclusion is simple. They’re all dumb. No, seriously. These are not even pre-school children at play. All have trouble with understanding accents. Other than Siri, few are adept at different languages. Context, which is easy for a child, seems to escape even the best, Google Assistant.
What a stupid name. Assistant? That’s exactly what you’d get from a company of engineers who do not appreciate design aesthetic and have little understanding of human behavior or interface design.
What about Bixby? A few years ago, Siri’s creators– who obviously had grown tired of Apple’s neglect of its star pupil– left the company to start over on a new Siri-like assistant. Samsung bought it. Bixby is the name. But Bixby is only available for wannabe show’n tell events, not prime time. Yes, Samsung is that bad at copying Apple.
Regardless, these personal digital assistants all have one thing in common. Stupidity. Dumbness. They’re full of their own parlor tricks to look good here and there, but head to head the only conclusion one can make is, “Humans are in trouble” and Siri will never rule the world, Skynet fashion.
During Apple’s WWDC keynote presentation this week we were given a sneak peak at Siri 2017, due on iOS 11 later this year. Siri’s voice has changed. Siri is more conversational, less robotic-like, and probably has a little more snark, and a few more tricks. And, by tricks, I mean commands that turn into action.
Tell Siri this, and Siri does this. Ask Siri this, and Siri responds– and therein lies the difference between these online assistants. They don’t respond the same way to the same questions, either.
Stone Temple did research on Siri and friends, and as expected, Google Assistant performed best, Siri worst. Read ’em and weep, but not for long.
Newly buzzword centric Apple– machine learning is our new friend— promises Siri will improve, become more integrated into iOS and macOS, and become more interactive.
You’ll read headlines here and there where Alexa or Google Assistant (I think GAssist would be a good name) trounces Siri with certain questions. Fair enough, except that Alexa handles only a couple of languages, Cortana responds to eight languages, GAssist only four languages, while Siri converses well in a couple of dozen languages with more than 36 localizations.
None of that matters much because all these assistants are intellectual infants. Or, just dumb.